Paulina’s pictures of flowers

Ecinachea
Echinacea

Since I was in the office all day, I didn’t get to the garden. It was also pretty hot, and I didn’t much feel like doing anything when I got home. So, for my post today, I will show off a few of the flowers. I am billing this as Paulina’s pictures, and the individual ones are, but the last one of the group is mine.

Thanks Paulina for the pink pictures!!!

Zinnia
Zinnia
My picture of sunflower and cosmos in the background
My picture of sunflower with cosmos in the background
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Storm issues

Willow branches scattered on the ground.
Willow branches scattered on the ground.

With all the time I have spent on my front seat on the couch watching the Olympics, I have not taken the time to share any of the pictures of the storm damage last Tuesday. It is hard to post pertinent posts when your brain is in Rio, that is all I will say. It was a week ago today that we had some pretty wild winds, like between 60-90 in terms of gusts. It was crazy. I stayed around the yard on Wednesday morning instead of hurrying to the church office, and helped pick up some of the debris. James and Kathy finished off the work in our mother’s yard and Aunt Glenda’s and some of Kathy’s. All in all James said he took five loads of branches to the dump ground. They also spent quite a bit of time vacuuming up the broken glass in Glenda’s yard because her patio table turned over and the glass top shattered. I don’t understand why those don’t come with Plexiglas in the first place. We had to replace ours way back in the 1990’s and we have not had to worry about it shattering after that.

Broken trees.
Broken trees.

Last night when I was in the back yard at my mother’s place I noticed that both of the trees beside the shop have some severe damage. The one that we initially thought was fine is split down the middle. I am wondering if we need to consider doing some real severe trimming on them. The closer of the two is already showing that the top is dead. The leaves have turned yellow and are drying up. So sad, these were well-trimmed and such nice Ash trees. The problem is at this time of year they are full of seeds and that makes the branches more susceptible to damage because there is so much weight on the branches. Below are individual pictures starting with the closer tree which is more to the north.

south tree
north tree
south tree
south tree

Any ideas, I would be interested in hearing them. Any solutions would also be great. This is all I have today. The laundry is calling my name and perhaps it would be a good idea to do something tangible today. Happy Gardening to all of you.

 

First tomatoes in the jars

First of the canning this year.
First of the canning this year.

On Saturday I was finally able to gather enough tomatoes to even start the canning process. The result was two quarts and one pint of soup. It wasn’t enough to use the original recipe, but I was able to adjust a bit. Basically to get the consistency of soup, you need to add butter and flour for thickening. I have finally realized the whole thing is about patience. To get the thickening right, you need to add the flour very slowly and keep whisking rapidly. I did it this time as the soup was boiling slowly in the large pot that I use. I had, as noted two and a half quarts of soup in the pot. To that I added 1/4 cup of sugar and 3/4 tablespoon of canning salt and a table-spoon of lemon juice to ensure the acidity level. I dropped in 1/3 stick of nearly frozen butter. I usually use the frozen because it forces me to keep boiling the soup as the butter melts. After it was melted, I whisked in 1/2 cup of flour. I added the flour while sifting it very slowly with my left hand and whisking like mad with my right. I should have added more flour, but I could feel myself losing patience and since I had no lumps, I was taking no chances. The best way to serve this it to cut up really ripe tomatoes and add them in chunks along with about a cup of milk. The real recipe calls for a bit of soda to prevent the milk from curdling, but I find that if I add it slowly, I never have any problems. I try to keep the taste of salt to a minimum. This particular batch actually has a sweet flavor to it, it might be the amount of sugar, but it could have something to do with the flavor of the tomatoes. Making soup is really lots of tasting and making sure it is what you prefer, as long as you have the acidity in there, you should be ok with the preservation. I did not do any water bath with these three jars because there were only three. I will store them in the fridge and use them quickly. With a full batch, I would boil them in the canner kettle for 20 minutes.

Tomatoes currently on the table waiting to be used.
Tomatoes currently on the table waiting to be used.

There are still lots of tomatoes on the table waiting to be used. Most of them are just not ripe enough to put them in the water to wash up for the canner kettle. The big problem with this amount is that there are enough to want to eat them, but not enough to get anything in the canner. I did a bit of an inventory of the shelves in the basement, and I will not be making any salsa this year. We have a good amount of whole tomatoes left from last year, but the juice is nearly gone and the soup is low with the spaghetti sauce even lower. Fortunately there are bags of frozen tomato paste in the freezer, so I know we will get through the winter without needing to purchase anything tomato.

Enough on the garden for today. I will get back to work on something or other instead of just sitting and watching beach volleyball. Happy Gardening to you!!!

A buzzard in the tree!!

Twisting its head to take a look at me.

Actually it is only in North America that we us the vulgar term buzzard. Paulina is having a fit that I change this title, but I happened to like the feel of saying the word buzzard compared to the more formal term of vulture. The whole point of this post is to show the pictures of the turkey vulture that I was able to get a couple of days ago. We saw at least three of them land in the trees behind the dike, but only one was out in the open, and none of them were moving so that I could capture them in flight. I still say we need a bigger zoom. This first picture makes it look like the vulture is looking at me. I was on the dike trying to get closer and possibly make it move, but this one was not getting off its branch.

Turkey Vulture relaxing in the tree.
Turkey Vulture relaxing in the tree.

The second picture is the same bird, but I angled it differently to get the live tree behind it, and that is why it looks like a different shot completely. I was a bit afraid to let the cats out when I knew there were three of these buzzards out there, but seriously they don’t attack live animals, rather they look to eat up the carrion that is lying around. I wonder what they smelled in the area to draw them here. Hopefully we don’t have to find out any time soon. Ha!! Finally as long as I was outside with the camera, I turned around and took a few pictures of the garden from the dike.

near perfect sunflower
near perfect sunflower

The lone sunflower close to the zinnias is really pretty, actually it is the most perfectly formed flower of the group. Hopefully it survives all the storms and animals. I am afraid that the tallest one, which I found face planted after the storm on Tuesday, might just have been taken out by the deer instead of the storm. From the evidence inside the garden, and the seeming path, I pretty much suspect the deer. Silly sunflowers, I didn’t plant them, pretty much didn’t want them, yet they make the garden look like it is really producing something amazing. I may have to find a special area for them in the future, and leave the garden for the produce that goes on the table. Well that is all for now, time to watch a bit of steeple chase at Rio, glad to see my couch is still there in the front row. Oh wait, I will have to finish those tomatoes sometime today. If you are interested, I have posted some stories about our time at Story Book Land with the grandchildren over on lucindalines.

Harvest: Friday, Aug. 12

Bounty of today!!
Bounty of today!!

The garden is still fairly wet from the rains of the past week, but the beans needed picking, so I braved the mud and filled a couple of buckets. I did not pick all that is out there, but I did as much as my back and leg would allow for today. I should take a trip  to visit the chiropractor, but I am putting it off for another week. Probably not a good idea, but my couch and the Olympics are a bit more appealing at this time. In the meantime, I need to wash both pair of athletic shoes after this last bit of picking.

Fresh potatoes.
Fresh potatoes.

James also dug some potatoes. He said he started with the plants from the non-seed potatoes that were bad in the cupboard last spring. He is hoping that this is the lowest of the yields this year. I washed up the smallest ones and we had them tonight in a stew with some carrots. We also were treated to some sweet corn that my sister Adie gave to Paulina last night. It was really good. The first corn on the cob of the season is always the best. I have cleaned those beans, but am thinking that I will need to break down and do a batch of pickled beans and some tomato soup tomorrow.

Beans and zinnias in the garden
Beans and zinnias in the garden

The thought of all that work isn’t so appealing at this moment. No wonder I am saving it for tomorrow. I just don’t have the energy for doing some of that this year, not sure what the problem is. I think it might have something to do with staying up until 2 am to watch the Olympics then getting up again before 8 a.m. to see the next round. Fortunately it won’t be for long and I guess that is why I get sort of crazy about watching it all. One more picture on the side gives you an idea of the mud in the garden around the beans and the zinnias. James worked so hard on Tuesday to water and fertilize, then it stormed majorly on Tuesday night and rained again on Wednesday. With the heat of the past few days on top of those rains, I am hoping we end up with a major boost in the harvest. This said by the one who just complained about being tired. HA!! Happy Gardening to all of you and best wishes on a great harvest.

Friday playing in the yard with the grandchildren!!

James and Jaxon with the bike.
James and Jaxon with the bike.

On Friday when Nate and Victoria and the grandchildren were here, we spent the day playing in the yard. It started with picking in the garden and advanced to James working with Jaxon on riding a bike without training wheels. It was not totally successful, but it was a hoot to see both him and Ana in their helmets. I had forbidden Paulina and Victoria to post any pictures of Ana on Jessica’s big wheel trike, but I just can’t help using it. As Jaxon would say her looks too crazy with that helmet sitting on that trike. And even though she couldn’t reach the wheels, she got around pretty well. I also think it is pretty amazing that the trike given to Jessica by Grandma Patsy and Grandpa Raymond has survived all these years and still works. I believe Jessica was about this size when she first rode it inside our house in Jamestown.

Ana on the big wheel
Ana on the big wheel
David at supper
David at supper

David did not get to ride any bikes or trikes, but he tried to crawl all through the grass. We finally had to go inside because of the mosquitos. We had bug spray on the kids, but it didn’t last, and when it started getting hot, we opted for the comfort of the inside. Besides that we wanted to watch some of the Olympics. Later in the evening we had a little birthday party for Ana. I have more on that over on my lucindalines site.

More produce

What a day! James said the humidity was at 99 percent. I believe it. I have been hot this summer and hot in other summers, but I don’t think that I sweat when I breathed as I did today. I ended up working in one of the houses that our mother left us today, and the poor little window air-conditioner was way over its head with that heat. I finally gave up and turned it off. It didn’t help that I was washing silverware and cleaning the refrigerator and moving drawers around. I guess sorting through things would make more sense at my place where there is central air, but that is not how things always go.

Probably the hottest was when I came home and went to the garden to check on what needed to be picked today. Well having stayed out of the garden yesterday, I found lots to pick today. It was, again, so terribly hot. I was tempted to go inside and put on a tank top or my swimsuit to grab some rays as I was picking, but I didn’t want to scare any of the neighbors when they looked outside. It is bad enough that we have an older gentleman in the neighborhood who mows shirtless. Now if it…. I erased the rest of that comment, best to keep some thoughts to myself…

picks of the day
Picks of the day

So when I finally finished picking the cucumbers, which must have been hiding on Saturday when I picked, I turned the hose on them. Our finance person in town keeps notifying me about leaks on the jointly owned property. I would guess some of that is from the campers being on continually. If we have a notice here this month I will know that it is from the watering I did today. Crazy wild. I just laid the hose under the plants and let it go. Hopefully the leaves look a bit less wilted tomorrow. I think on Wednesday before we head to Jamestown, I will get out the fertilizer for one last summer hit.

I feel a bit guilty tonight after the message I gave yesterday and posted on the lucindalines site. It was all about sharing, and I mentioned that I don’t feel like I share enough, and I don’t. Well tonight I had the chance to make that up, and I didn’t take it. Our neighbor [she is the one just learning how to garden] called to ask if she could have some jalapeno peppers. Last year I gave her several peppers of all kinds that I had. This year I didn’t plant very many, and now don’t have any to share. In fact, there are barely any off the plants at this time. I won’t be caught without peppers next year.

Not much else to say. If I get finished up in time, I will post the picture of the snapping turtle we saw yesterday on my lucindalines site. I thought it was huge. Take care and Happy Gardening to you!!

Harvest is happening

Basketful of goodies, but this angle doesn't show it all.
Basketful of goodies, but this angle doesn’t show it all.

This year we had decided not to garden. We were positive that we would let the garden plot lie dormant, empty, as in give it a year of rest. It didn’t take too long for us to think of how the weeds would take over and though we didn’t want to plant grass, we didn’t want to have to till it constantly, so we opted to fill it with flowers. Early in the spring when we were about to till in order to plant the zinnias and cosmos and maybe some marigolds, we noticed something growing. Thinking it was volunteer zinnias, we decided to leave them, and we tilled around the little buggers. They turned out to be sunflowers, one of which is now 10 foot high, and they have attracted a deer to the garden for a late night snack. Jaxon and Ana loved the sunflowers because there was just enough room between them for two little tikes to run and chase each other. If only I had just left well enough alone.

Beans green and purple
The rest of the harvest was these green and purple beans.
The harvest of the day, well with the beans on the next picture.
The harvest of the day. the tomato in the center weighed in at 14 oz.

Then one day when we were in a farm store to pick up something, I don’t remember what, I went through the green house. I found a few pepper and tomato plants. Then I went inside and found seeds to grow purple beans and the plans were altered again. At home I found my old package of cucumbers and here we are today with a harvest of sorts. The tomatoes are not enough to start the boiler and make a batch of soup, and the beans won’t get out the pickling spices, but there is enough to make a wonderful supper and take a few of the left overs to church tomorrow to put on the back table and have people donate to others in need as they take a cucumber or tomato home to nibble. Oh yes, and I did sneak in a couple of zucchini hills. I guess you just can’t retire this old gardener. I went outside this morning to hang out the clothes then to see if I could find any beans for supper. I came in with a little more than I expected. Happy Gardening to You!!

Climbers hit the top!

One vine is at the top.
One vine is at the top.

You are probably wondering if I have any flowers other than the morning glories. I just looked back and found this same area in posts on: July 21, July 4 and June 21. There may have been more, but I gave up on looking. I admit that I am a bit obsessed with this area, but I love how it has turned out. The really fun part is sitting under the porch roof looking out through the strings when it is raining or windy. It gives one a feeling of shelter and protection. Now to figure out how to accomplish that on the north side of the main porch.

Escape hatch
Escape hatch

I keep thinking that we need to screen in the whole porch, yet I am not willing to give up the protection that it affords the cats when they feel threatened. This picture off to the right shows how they are able to get from the porch railing to the second level with a bit of a jump. There is just enough of an opening for them to sit and look out at the world or escape to the upper level for protection from dogs or children chasing after them. It is not really a good escape from other cats, but I have been able to scoot them inside my bedroom from the door on that level when they are being harassed late at night. This morning Roger was chasing something in the yard, and I had to leave my chair to check it out. Apparently she was clearing out the squirrels.

Roger relaxing in the house away from the squirrels.
Roger relaxing in the house away from the squirrels.

They turned on her and she came onto the porch in a flash. It was almost funny except, I do expect her to clear the yard of unwanted critters, and any squirrels coming in and eating my strawberries or lettuce meets that criteria. Now those of you who have read some of my posts this summer might say, “What about the pictures of the squirrel on the high line pole, or the one by the pond.” Well those areas are ok by me, but my food bins are not. I hope you are seeing the irony in these points. Squirrels and deer and other animals go where they are attracted, so I may need to get a mean dog or something to keep them all out of the yard. On the other hand, my own crabby voice might just be enough. I am starting to sound more and more like my mother or either of my grandmothers each day. This morning I caught a couple of little boys turning around in my mother’s back yard. I have to say, I was not so friendly towards them. I suppose their parents might say I wasn’t very neighborly. I think I was more upset with the parents. These were young, young children driving around town on a golf cart. When they left here, they went towards the area of the elevator. Hopefully those driving semi-trucks slow down enough to notice them. Well, that is my rant for the day, Happy Gardening to you!!